Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Data Driven PLCs- Cyber Observing Excellence in Action

Do you ever wish you could be a fly on the wall of another PLC's meeting? We know the value of observing in classrooms, but have we ever considered the value of observing another dynamic and effective PLC in action? 
Knowing that it's impossible to be in two places at once, I'll try to offer a window in to other PLCs at Buckner. 

Here's this week's highlights: 

Wow! Check out some of your colleagues data driven PLC minutes. I know that many of you don't get the opportunity to see these gems, but they really are worth checking out. The collaboration opportunities are many.
Some snippets from the 2nd grade PLC minutes. 

Instructional/Behavior Strategies and Celebrations:
  •     As a team we celebrated our narrative writing. In our ELA unit 5, the kids were just to get their feet wet with narrative writing. The past couple of years we have reflected and revised, but haven’t been happy with the outcomes. This year at extended planning we totally revamped this mini-unit. We began with what the students know about all great writing and then did a few days of reading like writers to notice similarities and differences between narrative writing and other types of writing we have done over the course of this year. We spent a day writing our beginning, middle and endings taken from a seed planted earlier in the year or a new moment. After that, we spent 4-5 days zooming in on one craft of narrative writing and trying it out in their current “piece”. The last few days of the mini-unit were revising/editing and publishing. For the amount of time spent on the min-unit, we were pretty impressed with the writing produced compared to previous years. We feel that we were successful with frontloading for the upcoming full blown unit on narrative, in unit 6.

·      Analysis of our March Reading Common Assessment and Math Common Assessments.
-    Reading Celebrations/Noticings: 
  • -100% of our 2nd graders were able to identify the main idea from the non-fiction text. In October and November a funnel graphic organizer, along with non-fiction texts to funnel out the important details and synthesize the main idea based on important details. Throughout the year, we have embedded main idea as we have read aloud non-fiction texts and when students have written non-fiction pieces.
    -97% of our 2nd graders answered the determining importance question correctly. Again, in reading, writing, math and science/social studies we have determined importance. It has become almost second nature to our kids to think about what is most important. 
Math Common Assessment:
We celebrated that 98% of our students answered the value and expanded form questions correctly. We used place value concepts to introduce our math workshop at the beginning of the year and then came back to review during our Unit 5. We were impressed with the amount the students retained. We attribute these successes to our intentional use of place value vocabulary throughout all of our units.
-93% of our students answered the telling time and AM/PM questions correctly. We just finished our unit on time so it was exciting to see that the students understand how to tell time to the nearest 5 minutes. 

Technology and Next Steps:

We made a few revisions to our ELA plans. We are currently studying opinion writing. We decided to move our book trailers that we typically do at the end of the year to now. We are having the students share their strong opinions on the best book they have either personally read this year or that we have read as a class (model texts, read alouds, book clubs, ECT). The plan is to have the students create a list of their favorite books, determine what was most important from the books and why in their opinion they are the BEST books. Then, the student’s will work in a small group to write a script, create a storyboard and publish a book trailer using iMovie to share with the school their opinion on the best book and try to hook their audience (the school) into reading this book in their classes, over the summer or as one of their books in their smart stack. We plan to work on our book trailers the week before spring break and wrap up the first few days back from break. 

Buzzz! Did you feel like you were there? This is just one peek inside a single BES PLC. More to come!

Writing Walkthrough 2015

Over the past 5 years, our staff has come together to analyze student writing. We have one purpose: to make evidence-based noticings about the writing that is taking place at Buckner Elementary- Kindergarten-Fifth grade so as to determine successes and establish next steps.

Each year we participate in this school-wide analysis, we grow our writers. We see evidence of this when we look at our students' notebooks, drafts, published pieces, and reflections, and d
ata has proven this to be true. Just looking at the last three years of our K-PREP scores, On Demand writing scores have improved 15%! Your efforts to learn more and try new things in the classroom ARE paying off!

Yesterday, we came together to read the writing of our students K-5. Through careful analysis, each of you sat with a team of teachers from a variety of grade levels to consider how Buckner students are growing as writers. You considered four different lenses as they traveled around the library taking in the collections of writing. 
Focus area 1: Opportunity and Variety- How frequently and in what ways are students asked and offered opportunities to write?  
Focus area 2: Expectations-What Common Core expectations (quality writing) do students display? Are students able to demonstrate quality writing in every content area?
Focus Area 3: Feedback- What types of feedback are students offered? Specific? Use of rubrics? Teacher, Peer, other?
Focus Area 4: Other Noticings: What other noticings do you have: technology? interests? etc.

The process was amazing! You spent time dedicating yourselves to reading the student collections, talking about the positive things they notice evidence of, and wrote down specific feedback for that grade level team to consider. 

The outcome was powerful! You stood in a circle around the library and shared a statement with the entire staff about the writing they noticed happening at Buckner. Here is a sampling of the powerful noticings: 

    Sharing our feedback with one another.
  • Wow! Such a variety in all content areas! 
  • Engaging topics and organized thoughts! 
  • "Stoplight"  (organized, coherent, and developed) paragraphing evidence! 
  • Specific feedback and question to push students’ thinking deeper  
  • Writing opportunities are occurring across all content areas and in all classrooms, including related arts!
  • The caliber of student writing showcased intentional emphasis on writing standards in all grade levels and across all genres. Yeah!
  • I was so impressed with our growth in regards to mechanics/conventions and sentence structure. * Our school-wide focus for this year! 
  • The expectations for writing are incredible across all content areas

We also took time , as a staff, to name next steps and goals for our writing instruction. We are a growth-minded group, and we always strive to learn more and support students in every way possible. As soon as I compile the results of their suggestions for next steps, I'll post it.

Keep supporting your writers all the time: in writer's workshop, reading workshop, math workshop, science, social studies, related art, pull-out settings, etc.!  You are models and supporters of student growth- ALWAYS. That's because you are the B.E.S.T.!
Thanks for ALL you do!